Giants co-owner Mara outlines busy offseason
Dec. 31, 2014
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Retaining coach Tom Coughlin for 2015 was only the start of what promises to be a busy offseason to-do list for ownership, the coaching staff, and general manager Jerry Reese.
Co-owner John Mara said Tuesday that re-signing unrestricted free agents Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle and continuing the rehabilitation of the 22 players who wound up on injured reserve were among the biggest needs for the franchise.
While expressing pleasure about the season-ending 3-1 stretch, Mara left no doubt that much energy will be expended to avoid another 6-10 disaster.
"This has been a very difficult year for our fans, and an even more difficult year for me," Mara said. "I haven't stomached this very well. It's going to be a long offseason. But I think there is reason for optimism. I think we'll be a better team next year, but just talking about it right now isn't very convincing. Not coming off this type of season."
Shoring up a defensive line that generated one of the league's weakest pass rushes the first 11 games of the season will be a priority. Re-signing Pierre-Paul, whose nine sacks over the last five games gave him a team-high 12 ½ for the season, will be a decision wrought with salary cap consequences. But Mara was cautiously optimistic about keeping him in the Meadowlands.
"I'll be surprised if he's not a Giant next year," Mara said.
But he also said he won't break the bank for him.
"I'd like him back, but for the right price," Mara said, adding that slapping the one-year, $9.04 million franchise tag on him is also an option. "He had a great finish."
Reese said he met with all the team's unrestricted free agents Monday, but has yet to engage in any negotiations with Pierre-Paul's representatives. How he weighs the defensive end's finish against the rest of his season could decide his future.
"The guy has the ability to be a game-changer, and we didn't see that the first half of the season," Reese said. "He's had some injury problems. We've seen the guy be a dynamic player, and he's still a young player. So now we have to have a conversation with John (Mara) and his agents and see what makes sense for everybody."
Reese said regardless of Pierre-Paul's or Rolle's status, he did not plan on equaling the $116 million he spent on free agents last year.
"It won't be wholesale changes. Last year we had to turn the roster over," Reese said. "We'll definitely do something to upgrade our roster. We've got a good corps of people coming back, regardless. You can't turn your roster over every single year."
Although quarterback Eli Manning has one more year left on his contract, Mara said they could discuss an extension. Mara said he believes Manning still has a championship left in him, and that the organization would like to see him retire as a Giant. "But it depends on what they're asking for," Mara said.
Continuing the rehabilitation on the vast list of injured players that included starters such as wide receiver Victor Cruz, linebacker Jon Beason, cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Prince Amukamara, and offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz will be another off-season concern.
"I'm very frustrated about the number of injuries we've had," Mara said. "It's been two years in a row now that we've led the league in putting players on the IR. We cut down on the number of soft-tissue injuries, and all of a sudden there's broken bones and torn tendons and torn muscles.
"If we just get half of them back healthy next year, we'll be a much better team."
The Giants must also find a replacement for quarterback coach Danny Langsdorf, who after just one season to become the offensive coordinator job at the University of Nebraska.
Despite all the "ifs" and uncertainty facing the Giants, Coughlin believed 2015 will be a success, even if it does take a long, arduous offseason to accomplish it.
"We're going to be better next year," an animated Coughlin said. "Why am I here? You think I'm in my office with my feet up? We're here to win!"